Hecklers are the worst. Stand-up comedians spend a lot of time crafting material, honing the writing and the delivery until the performance is perfect. When somebody heckles, it disrupts the flow the show. Sure, the comedian may have a witty comeback - "I remember my first beer!" - but that doesn't justify the rude interruption. Also, it's disrespectful to everyone else in the audience, who paid to see the show.
During a 2015 show in Santa Fe, New Mexico, Dave Chappelle experienced a bizarre form of heckling: A man in the audience threw a banana peel at him. The man was identified as Christian Englander, and he claimed the disruption was not racially motivated. Rather, he said he did it because the comedian poked fun at his friend in audience, and equates throwing it with hecklers throwing rotten tomatoes. (This begs the question, does he just go to every show with banana peels in his pockets?)
After hurling the banana peel, Chappelle's bodyguard restrained Englander, and he was charged with "battery and disturbing the peace." However, the case was dropped when Chappelle didn't participate in the prosecution. I mean, he's Dave Chappelle - he doesn't get that upset over the actions of a drunken audience member. In fact, the comic even worked the incident into his material, referring to it as "BananaGate" in his Netflix special, Deep In The Heart Of Texas. He joked that since banana peel was brown, the crime must have been "premeditated."
Now Christian Englander has filed a lawsuit against Dave Chappelle - I know, it should be the other way around, right? Well, Englander claimed that the comedian's bodyguard struck him twice while he was being restrained. A police report filed about the incident makes no mention of this alleged assault, though, so he may have a hard time proving his case.
While Englander denies that throwing the banana peel at Chappelle was racially motivated, he threw another banana peel at a black man two days later. So, that's quite a coincidence. The New York Daily News reports that the second banana-tossing was spurred by the first one:
"In the second banana incident, Englander tossed the peel at a man named Jay Wills during a run-in outside of a Santa Fe bar, the New Mexican reported. The fruit feud was apparently inspired by a heated conversation the men were having about the Chappelle controversy, which many viewed as a racist act when Englander's arrest made news. Englander and Wills gave conflicting accounts of who provoked whom, but both described a fight that ended with Englander throwing a peel that landed near Wills."
"'It seemed fitting at that point,' said Englander, a self-described artist and aspiring clown. 'I was like, the irony of this situation is too much to pass up, and I probably should've just let it be.'"
Well, if you're performing a show in Santa Fe, New Mexico, watch out for banana peels.